iTUNES issues

Windows 7, 64-bit. iTUNES 12.3.31, latest as of November 23, 2015. JAWS 16 (though I could upgrade to 17 if it actually improved things.) I also have and know how to use the latest version of NVDA 2015-4.

Four years I've had the iPOD and two years I've had the iPHONE. And iTUNES continues to be a giant struggle to use.

I have two questions for this forum.

1: Is there a way to simply ditch iTUNES forever and use something more accessible? Though I can use DropBox, Google Drive and various wi-fi transfer programs to get files on to the device, the files mostly belong to that app. I'd love to just be able to put books and music on my iDEVICE as easily as I transfer files to a thumb drive. I'd like to know that if my iDEVICE crashes, I have an easy way to restore a backup. I avoided using iTUNES for an entire year, then the phone crashed, and got stuck in the mode where the screen prompts you to connect to iTUNES to restore. I really wish AppleVis would produce a guide on ditching iTUNES forever and replacing its functions with something easier.

2: If I am stuck with iTUNES, then what happened with the tree view of sources, that shows your devices? I've read every tutorial and forum post on this site about using iTUNES and they frequently suggest finding your device in the tree view. Sometimes a tutorial will suggest selecting the "devices" button. My iTUNES doesn't have a "devices" button. It has a view menu, where I can choose music, movies, podcasts, internet radio, etc, but I can't view my connected device there.

This tree view of sources appears to have disappeared from the interface. I know about Tab and F6. I can press tab forever and simply rotate through the content in my ITUNES library.
Under File-Devices, I can choose to transfer purchases, sync my device, back up or restore. But I can't actually find the summary screen for my device, nor locate lists of its apps to perform iTUNES sharing, nor its list of music to remove unwanted songs.

Often, it seems that what I read in a tutorial doesn't match what's happening in my iTUNES, which I do keep updated. For one example, the spacebar is used to play or pause the currently focused song. So how can you use it to check or uncheck the current song for syncing? I can easily find everything from podcasts to playlists in the library, but where the real trouble begins is when I try to move or remove some of this content from a device.

Under help, iTUNES does have an impressive array of keyboard shortcuts. But nowhere in this list are there shortcuts for working with your device. iTUNES may be accessible for purchasing and managing media, but mostly I want to use it to manage content on my devices, and for that, no shortcuts appear to exist.

There are many great tutorials out there on using iTUNES -- for example, Freedom Scientific has some webinar archives, and this site has podcasts. But they often focus on working with iTUNES itself; purchasing and searching for content. What I need more guidance on is how to select and de-select content for syncing, navigating the content on my device to manage it effectively, using sharing to add a file to a particular app and coping with my device when iTUNES is required to restore it.

I guess what I'm saying is that most of the tutorial info is iTUNES-centric, and I want something that is iDEVICE-centric!

So AppleVis editors, please do a thorough guide or podcast not on using iTUNES, but on managing your device in iTUNES. And I'd really like one on doing all this with Windows.

Forum: 

#1 iTunes had a facelift - I didn't see iteither...

This was the biggest thorn in my side for soooooooo long!!! I have iTunes running on every PC in my home because the sharing is amazing and all 50,000+ songs I've ever had are all available in every room of my home. That being said for some reason I can't seem to get the side bar to show up on half of the PC's, no clue why.
One thing you can do is download NVDA, it's a free screen reader and it's super good at just reading the screen. It doesn't have as much capability as JAWS or SuperNova, but it really fills a lot of gaps those 2 leave in cases like this. I know grabbing another screen reader sounds like a pain, BUT it's even got a portable version which I love because I just dropped it in my OneDrive so I have it any time I log in to a PC and it has all of my settings just like I like em. You can also drop it on a thumb drive, burn it to a CD/DVD (but you can't make changes to it's settings when burned to a dik), or use DropBox, etc. - point being it's a pretty cool backup tool to carry around and since it's free it's certainly worth it. I'd suggest doing the portable version just to make sure it doesn't interfere with JAWS install, 99.9% of the time it doesn't, but it's that .01% of the time that makes me paranoid LoL.
Now iTunes did have a facelift and there is a pain way to get to your device these days. First of all try closing iTunes completely and then just plugging your device in. In theory thise should go right to the summary screen for your iPhone, iPod or other IOS device. Sometimes we forget that we got frustrated at the auto sync settings and changed something a while back (I'm so guilty of that in so many different cases LoL), if that's the case then with your device already plugged into the PC open up iTunes. Start hitting Tab until you hear "Music" then Tab again to the next (by memory I think it's Movies), as you tab at a slower rate now you'll hear something like "more" or "bullets" or "dot dot dot", I've heard it say a few things no clue what it's supposed to be, but it's the one that's nothing like some kind of media in iTunes. Hit Tab one more time and it should say your devices name, maybe "iPhone", sometimes "Device", again it depends on your reader, the version and so on and so on. Whatever that one says, it will bring you to the summary screen for your device. If you are partially sighted it's at the left side under the control buttons for iTunes and it will look like an icon of your IOS device.
Finally, I did find this on the Apple Support Forums specifically mentioning iTunes 12, haven't tried it yet, but I'm going to as soon as I get home!
"I found my own answer for those who are interested. From the "Playlist View" with Library -> Music selected in the Sidebar on the left, notice that "Albums" is the default in the menu bar at the far right. There is a drop-down selection arrow there. Click that and select "Songs" to put the library view back in "Column Browser" view. Very cumbersome to set up, but it does appear that iTunes 12 will re-open to your last view so hopefully I don't have to go thru all those clicks every time."

Hope this is helpful and I know iTunes is a pain, but it's really the best way to at least keep your device backed up. For the record once you get into the summary screen there is an option to sync wirlessly, I always check that box. Then when I put my phone on the charger at night I start the sync and it just goes right over my home wireless network.
Also, just thought of something, when you connect your IOS device to the PC unlock the screen and see if there's a promt to trust the PC - can't believe I forgot to mention that one. If you don't take this step then your device isn't going to connect anyways. Make sure you IOS device trusts your PC and hopefully things go smooth for you.